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Working-Class Heroes is an organic melding of history, music, and politics that demonstrates with colorful evidence that workers everywhere will struggle to improve their conditions of life. And among them will be workers who share an insight: in order to better our lot, we must act collectively to change the world. This profusely illustrated treasury of song sheets, lyrics, photographs, histories, and biographical sketches explores the notion that our best hope lies in the capacity of ordinary working people to awaken to the need to emancipate ourselves and all of humanity. Featuring over a dozen songwriters, from Joe Hill to Aunt Molly Jackson, Working-Class Heroes delivers a lyrical deathblow to the myth that so-called political songs of the Twentieth Century were being written by intellectuals and outside agitators in New York. The songs collected here have a striking relevance to current affairs and invite us to explore the historical conditions that inspired their creation: systemic crisis, advancing fascism, and the threat of world war. In the face of violent terror, these working-class songwriters stood up to fight oppression. Such courage and heroism is immortal, such heroes should be celebrated and their songs can still lift our spirits, if we sing them today. Heroes featured in this collection: Sarah Ogan Gunning, Ralph Chaplin, Woody Guthrie, Ella May Wiggins, Joe Hill, Paul Robeson, John Handcox, Aunt Molly Jackson, Jim Garland, Alfred Hayes, and Joseph Brandon.
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